During a press briefing at the Pentagon on Tuesday, Defense Department spokesman John Kirby said the U.S. could get 5,000 to 9,000 citizens out of Afghanistan daily.
- Back to the numbers of Afghans and others trying to get out. If you look at the SIV people, special immigrant visa and their families, there are estimates of 70,000 to 88,000. And then you add the P2 people who are trying to get out to a third country. And then maybe hundreds, if not thousands, beyond that. So all told the total universe we're talking about is probably 100,000 people trying to get out of Afghanistan. Given that, are you confident with your planning that by the 31st, you can get all those people out or is that uncertain?
What we're confident is that we're going to maximize capacity to the degree that we can. And that at max capacity, as the general said, given what could be more than two dozen sorties per day, you could get to 5,000 to 9,000 people out per day. Our focus is on again, making sure that the environment, the conditions, are set to be able to do that.
As I said the other day, airlift is not going to be a limiting factor. But it also is going to require, and has required, constant liaison with our State Department colleagues, who are obviously in charge of administering the special immigrant visa process and the other priority visas that you mentioned. So we're working hand in glove with them on the manifest, you know, who's being processed, when they're being processed, and making sure that they're ready and able to get on flights out of that.
So it's a complex interagency effort here, Tom. What I can tell you-- I can't guarantee a certain number by a certain day. I wouldn't do that. As the general rightly said, weather can play a factor. In fact weather has played a factor today.
So what we think is, at max capacity, 5,000 to 9,000 per day, a couple of dozen sorties maybe even more per day, conditions permitting. But it has to be done in close concert with our State Department colleagues. And so we'll do as much as we can for as long as we can.